Harlingen, TX- By SERGIO CHAPA and ALLEN ESSEX, Valley Morning Star
HARLINGEN Investigators said a natural gas leak caused an accidental Sunday morning explosion that destroyed an East Jackson Avenue home, sending five people to hospitals.
Following some tests Monday morning, Assistant Fire Marshal Esequiel Rios said the fire started in the kitchen from a gas leak inside a wall between the kitchen and a bathroom.
Rios said the leaked gas traveled into the attic, where it could have been accumulating for more than 48 hours.
“Something in the kitchen sparked the fire,” Rios said.
Rios said workers recently replaced gas, water and sewer lines and did carpentry repairs the home.
Rios said late Monday that investigators hope to talk to a workman who is still hospitalized at Valley Baptist Medical Center.
Valley Baptist Medical Center spokesman Mike Swartz said Jennifer Mabry, who lived at the house, and two others were transferred to the burn unit at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.
A BAMC spokesman on Monday refused to release any information about the explosion victims who are being treated there.
Ethel Broman, Mabrys mother, owns the property, Rios said. She was not available for comment.
A man in his 70s, believed to be one of the workmen, and a woman in her 40s, believed to be the health care worker, were transferred to the burn unit at BAMC.
Another man is still being treated at VBMC, but was moved from the intensive care unit to a regular room and listed in stable condition, Swartz said.
Rios said there are no records of reported gas leaks.
Fire Chief Sig Cantu said city officials would check the neighboring buildings for structural damage.